(The following letter from Australian anti-war and Latin American solidarity activist Joan Coxsedge—who is also a former member of the Victoria state parliament--originally appeared in an Australian-Cuban solidarity group’s newsletter)
“November 28, 2015
“Hello everyone. Christmas is coming at us from all directions, with the commercials ramping up their hard sell campaign earlier than usual persuading mug shoppers to spend more than they can afford for ‘things’ they don’t need, who are then faced with a credit card debt long after their christmas trees have been dumped in the rubbish bin. Normal for this time of the year, except these aren’t normal times.
“Peace on earth and goodwill to all men has always sounded sexist and phoney, but today the slogan has never felt more inappropriate. I’m thinking of the desperate people trying to survive in Beirut, Baghdad, Palestine, Damascus and all the other places caught up in terror. And the cold-blooded butchery in Paris that shocked, horrified and outraged us at the waste of young lives. ISIS, ISIL, Daesh - whatever their name - have no heart or head, just tentacles that act in fury and barbarity. A time of killing in hotels, cafes, concert halls, on aeroplanes, anywhere and everywhere.
“Terrorism terrifies and people are terrified, knowing that more violence is on the way. But this current form of terrorism didn’t come out of the blue. It’s roots go back a long way, centuries ago, to waves of western imperialism. It’s called Blowback.
“Where did these ISIS attackers come from? There’s a temptation to blame religion or race to avoid more solid areas of investigation.
“ In the 1960s and 70s we had the US/Saudi backed World Muslim League whose job was to wipe out secular nationalism and communism in the Arab world in order to protect corrupt Gulf Arab emirates and the Saudi kingdom and the west’s interests in oil and power. The League’s assault on Afghanistan destroyed its communist republic long before Soviet intervention, and paved the way for the creation of the ‘mujahideen’ whose core contained a violent element that became al-Qaeda.
“ Crucially, the US-run wars in Iraq and Libya and Syria turned them into playgrounds for the ‘jihardis’, a scheme spelled out in a 1997 document called the Project for the New American Century, dreamed up by the repugnant team of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle to establish a US empire to rule the world. September 11, 2001 gave them the green light.
“ Iraq was their jumping-off point to destroy the Middle East. All of it bankrolled by the World Trade Organisation and the IMF.
“So it’s hard to feel Christmassy when I think of my friends in Iraq and Libya, both of which I visited in happier times. It makes my blood boil when I hear Libya described as a Gaddafi-run military dictatorship when it used to be one of the world’s most democratic states.
“Four years have gone by since Gaddafi was butchered, heralding the beginning of Libya’s decline into chaos.
“ In 1967, Gaddafi took over one of the poorest nations in Africa but by the time he was killed he had transformed Libya into Africa’s richest with the highest Human Development Index, the lowest infant mortality rate and the highest life expectancy. Under Gaddafi, Islamic terrorism was non-existent.
“ In 2009, the US State Department called Libya ‘an important ally in the war on terrorism’. Bloody hypocrites.
“Today Libya is a failed state, with the South a haven for ISIS and the North for migrant trafficking, all of it happening amidst a backdrop of widespread rape, assassinations and torture.
“ Iraq’s collapse began in 1990-91 with Gulf War 1 and has continued unabated, with 4 million Iraqis displaced and half-a-million registered as refugees.
“ Syria’s crisis is also gargantuan with half the population displaced and refugees numbering at least five million, Its finances in tatters.
“Rich powers turn up with smug faces and pledge a lot of money to UN agencies but when it comes to fulfilling these pledges their ink runs dry. But not when it comes to arms sales. Despite the complex array of conflicts in the region, Obama has agreed to an unprecedented splurge in US armaments, with Saudi Arabia getting the lion’s share of $49 billion and $800 million ‘aid’ fort ‘moderate rebels’ in Syria and Kiev, while millions of children go hungry.
“ ‘We live in pitiless times’, said Vijay Prashad, who suggests we should read Leila Sebbar’s La Seine Etait Rouge, a searing novel about the French government’s murder of hundreds of pro-Algerian protesters in Paris in October 1961. One more history buried under a mountain of cliches and lies, and forgotten.
“ Out of the blue, a blast from the past. A recent news item appeared in a weekday edition of The Australian about the reappearance of Michael Hand in the US State of Idaho. Hand had been a partner with Frank Nugan in the notorious Sydney-based Nugan Hand Bank, an ‘unbank’ that never did any banking nor hired any bankers. In 1980, a rifle blast blew off the head of what was purported to be that of Frank Nugan - although the NSW Attorney-General’s Department believed it was the body of a missing Italian drug dealer - and exposed the massive fraud at the heart of his empire. At the same time, Michael Hand took off like a rocket from his Sydney hideout, leaving behind his clothes, passport, wallet and credit cards and vanished into thin air - until now.
“Getting out before details emerged that Nugan Hand was a CIA centre for a huge clandestine network involving US Generals, admirals, and CIA men, including former CIA chief William Colby, who were involved in drug-running, tax evasion, money-laundering, gun-running and secret arms deals. It had the explicit and implied authority at the highest levels and in intelligence jargon was a ‘conduit’ to buy off Australian politicians, trade union officials and journalists, some of whom were probably unaware of the source of favours and disinformation.
“At the time I was puzzled that the CIA with its vast resources used the same handful of people over and over again. The answer was detailed in a civil court action in Florida by two American journalists injured in a bombing in Nicaragua. The 300-page indictment showed that Nugan Hand’s crimes were only a small part of a long trail of international racketeering, assassinations, torture and even wars carried out by a team that was formally assembled by Vice-President Richard Nixon in 1959 after the fall of Cuban dictator Batista.
“The anti-Castro terrorist group was supplemented by an assassination unit as part of a broader scheme to bump off foreign leaders, the same team being controlled by Theodore Shackley. In 1972, Shackley became the CIA’s head of Western Hemisphere Activities and was part of the criminal conspiracy that orchestrated the violent coup against Allende in Chile and installation of General Pinochet (Australian ASIS personnel took part) and two years later was up to his neck in the demise of the Whitlam Government.“And so the tangled web goes on and on.
“This is just a taste of their crimes. But Cuba survived.
“Joan Coxsedge, “